A large part of retirement planning involves trying to predict the costs that you will be facing in the future. This is very challenging because there are many variables at play that are totally out of the control of the individual. Things like potential changes in the tax laws, how Medicare will look in ten or twenty years, whether or not health care reform will be repealed or altered, and just how high long-term care costs will rise are all unknowns. All you can do about the things about which you have no control is to make intelligent estimates and be as prepared as you can possibly be financially.
What we want to highlight here is a major financial factor that many people don't see in the proper light, and it is something that is totally within your own control. When you are considering what your future medical expenses and long-term care costs may be, it is important to recognize the fact that for the most your health is by your personal choices. Of course we have all heard about the guy who never smoked a day in his life who got lung cancer, but this is certainly the exception rather than the rule.
As you get older it is statistically more likely that you will have health problems, but to a large extent this is due to an accumulation of damaging lifestyle choices. Too many people depend on their doctors to make them well and kind of pretend that their health problems are a matter of bad luck or an inevitable part of aging when in fact they are making themselves sick.
If you are obese, largely sedentary, eat without any type of plan in mind, and smoke and/or drink to excess you are essentially driving your future medical expenses up by the day. If you do all the right things it is very likely that you are saving yourself a lot of money while you enjoy a higher quality of life. The choice is yours, but the message here is that you do have a great deal of personal control over your future health care costs and it all depends on how well you take care of yourself along the way.